5 Thai Students Still Under Pakistani Custody, Govt Says

A photo of Faruk Suthok, one of the five students detained in Pakistan, provided by his family.

BANGKOK — The five students arrested for trying to smuggle a firearm and some ammunition onto an aircraft in Pakistan are still being held under police custody there, a Thai government spokesperson said, reversing an earlier statement that some of them had been released.

The students were arrested at Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore on the night of 8 June, shortly before they boarded a Thai Airways flight bound for Bangkok. Thai officials said they were informed by Pakistani authorities that the five men attempted to carry a handgun, its magazine, and some ammunition onboard the aircraft.

On 12 June, Anusith Kunakorn, secretary-general of Thailand’s National Security Council, said four of the five students had been released and were on their way back to Thailand. He told reporters they were expected to arrive in Bangkok on Friday. 

However, Sek Wannamethee, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday that the five students had not been released and are still under investigation by Pakistani authorities.

"The Royal Thai Embassy is still coordinating with and following any developments from the Pakistani authorities," Sek told reporters.

Maj.Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd, spokesperson of the government, confirmed that the five are still being held in Pakistani custody. "I'd like the people to follow the news carefully, in order to prevent any misunderstanding or cause a pressure on officials of both countries," Maj.Gen. Sansern said. 

According to the government, the five students have been studying at Islamic schools in Pakistan for the past two years.

Suwan Songlong, the father of one of the five students, 18-year-old Sakkariya Songlong, told reporters he was very disappointed when he realized that the previous news about his son's release was false.

"I would like to plead to the government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help my son and his friends to return home as soon as possible," Suwan said. "I believe my son didn't do anything wrong. I am ready to pick up my son at the airport."

For comments, or corrections to this article please contact: [email protected]

You can also find Khaosod English on Twitter and Facebook
http://twitter.com/KhaosodEnglish
http://www.facebook.com/KhaosodEnglish